Wednesday, August 31, 2011
We at Inside Showbiz Magazine join the still-legions of Nora Aunor admirers nationwide who welcome her much-awaited return to the Philippines, although many of us might have actually been too young during her heydays in local entertainment to distinctly remember her showbiz exploits, except for viewed reruns of her Tagalog movies on cable TV or video. She was one great actress! She still is, since talents do not just fade away. She may no longer befit the Golden Voice label now but she is still on great actress.
Why do many admire Nora despite her roller-coaster personal life and some troubles in the past? Nora Aunor is no doubt a great dramatic actress, if not the greatest actress ever in Philippine Cinema and on television.
Nora is also an amazing and authentic "rags to riches" Cinderella saga, one that is still ongoing like a telenovela. Can she still regain her past successes, her fabulous wealth? Abangan ang susunod na kabanata! Even her love life has always been colorful and controversial.
by WILSON LEE FLORES
Inside Showbiz Magazine
Inside Showbiz Magazine
I grew up watching the movies of Nora Aunor, either laughing at her antics or shedding buckets of tears along with my mom everytime an antagonist does anything to hurt her. From her tumultuous private life to her much-lauded accomplishments, few celebrities come close to the one and only Superstar.
Coming home as a Kapatid with TV5 and movie projects lined up, loyal "Noranians" are celebrating her much-awaited return after living abroad for about eight years. We pay tribute to her on page 74.
by HAZEL SANTOS
Inside Showbiz Magazine
Monday, August 29, 2011
by BOY VILLASANTA
August 7, 2011
Sa maniwala kayo’t sa hindi, si Nora Aunor ay budhi at konsensiya ng masa o ng bawat isa sa atin na nabibilang sa pinagsasamantalahan o pinakikinabangan sa hanay ng anumang uri ng tao sa lipunang ito.
O ang masa ang budhi at konsensiya ni Nora?
Dahil nagmula sa dukha, magbabalik at magtataguyod ng dukha ang isang tulad ni Aunor na hindi talaga makaiwas-iwas o makawala sa kulto ng mga ordinaryong Filipinong naghahanap ng kalayaan sa bawat sandali o kahit sa pangmatagalan ding kalayaan at kasarinlan ng pagkatao, kaluluwa at diwa pati na ang pisikal na anyo ng isang nilalang sa anumang bahagdan ng lipunan pero lalo at higit pa sa lahat ay ang mga nasa ilalim ng guhit ng kahirapan sa baligtad na tatsulok ng buhay na ito sa ating lipunan.
Pero nand’yan si Guy para tayo ay paalalahanan o tampal-tampalin para matauhan o tayo ang sumasampal o nagpapaalala kay Nora na matauhan at ipagtanggol ang bayan.
Kasi nga’y matagal nang nais manguna ni Nora sa pagpapalaya sa kanyang mga kababayan bagamat may sapot pa marahil sa mga litid ng kanyang isip.
Matatandaan na kumandidato pa si Aunor bilang gobernadora ng Camarines Sur pero natalo siya. Kasi nga’y wala siyang sistema para sa ganitong pulitika na isa ring agham ng pakikipagpingkian sa kapwa pero nakisawsaw ang Superstar sa kanyang pamumulitika tulad rin ng pagtugpa bigla ni Fernando Poe, Jr. sa pagkapresidente ng bansa gayong kulang pa siya sa kalasag ng pulitikahan sa lebel ng mga bihasa na sa mas magulo at mas intrigang daigdig ng pulitika na kailangan ang higit pang kaplastikahan habang nakikipagkumparehan at nakikipagkumarehan ang isang pulitiko sa kanyang kapwa.
Mas bagay kay Nora ang manguna sa mga organisasyon na hindi organisado ang pulitikahan o panggobyerno na may byurukratikong taltalan o intrigahan kundi sa pakikibaka at pakikipaglaban para sa mga progresibong kamalayan ng bawat mamamayan halimbawa’y kung paano ipaglaban ang mga karapatang-pantao o ang tamang pasuweldo sa mga pinagtatrabahuhan.
Sa aming palagay ay hindi na kailangan pa ni Aunor na mag-aral ng batas tungkol sa karapatang—pantao o pangkalikasan o pang-obrero at paggawa dahil may mga magpapayo naman sa kanya.
Ang mahalaga ay ang kanyang diwa at simbolo dahil siya ang repleksyon mga pangakaraniwang tao sa pang-ekonomikong kalagayan lalo na at ang kanyang ningning ay makakalikha ng himala sa mga pinagrereklamuhan.
Kaya lang nga ay kailangang magtiis siya at makibagay sa mga bagay na naranasan na niya noong mahirap pa sila bagamat nakaalpas siya pansumandali nang siya ay magkamal ng malaking halaga at salapi pero sanay naman siya sa hirap.
Hindi nga ba’t sinuportahan pa siya ng Philippine Educational Theater Association o PETA, isang makabayan at makataong organisasyong kultural?
Pati ang Migrante ay nasa kanyang likuran lalo na nang gawin niya ang mga pelikulang pang-OFW tulad ng “Flor Contemplacion.”
Kaya lang nga ay walang tiyaga si Ate Guy sa madawag at mas malayo pang paglalakbay ng pakikibaka.
Mas nanaisin niyang magkulong sa kanyang kuwarto o kaya naman ay makipagsosyalan sa kanyang mga amiga sa showbiz o mangarap ng jackpot.
Ang pakikilangkap sa masa o paglubog sa masa ay hindi muling ginampanan ni Nora.
Pero ngayong nagbalik siya, ang sabi niya’y magbabago na siya sa lahat ng mga kalokahang naganap sa kanya, sa mga maling desisyon sa kanyang buhay.
Hindi pa naman huli ang lahat pero puwede rin naman na pagsabayin niya ang pakikipagsosyalan at ang pakikibaka para sa kalayaan at kapakanan ng higit na nakararaming Filipino.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
by BOY VILLASANTA
August 22, 2011
MARAHIL ay may kokontra kung aming sabihing si Nora Aunor ay maaaring gawing templo ng pagsusulong ng Free Expression Bill pero may argumento kami tungkol sa bagay na ito.
Bagamat babasahin nating lamog na lamog na si Nora sa kanyang publiko at pribadong buhay sa pananaw ng mga siniko o moralista o sulimpat ang tingin sa mga bagay-bagay, nananatiling si Aunor pa rin ang simbolo ng lipunang Filipino—sa kabuuan ng personalidad ng isang sagisag na dumaan na sa maraming pagsubok at pakikibaka sa tunggalian ng mga uri sa lipunang ito at hanggang ngayon ay nangangapa pa rin sa tunay na landasin dahil sa urong-sulong, sinikal at bantulot na pakikipagbuno, kumalas sa mga samut-sari, sabid-sabid na mga motibo ng mga burgis at peti-burgis at ng kanya mismong uri na nakapaligid sa kanya at akayin ang bawat isa sa tamang landas kahiman at matagal itong adhika.
Artista si Nora at siya ay saksi sa lahat ng mga bagay—mabuti at masama—na naganap at nagaganap sa showbiz at ang partisipasyon ng mga ahensiya at tao sa negosyo at larangang ito ay kapang-kapa na niya sa kaibuturan ng kanyang puso at isip.
Kaya ang pagkalap ng mga progresibo kay Guy na makasama sa pagsusulong ng Free Expression Bill o ang pagbabago sa mga nakaugalian nang rikotitos ng Movie and Television Review and Classification Board ay isang nakakapagpaalab ng puso at diwa ng mga nakikibaka para sa malayang pamamahayag.
Kasi nga’y ang isa sa masisigasig na nagsusulong kay La Aunor na maging nasa pusod ng pagsusulong ng Free Expression Bill ay walang iba kundi ang masigasig din at aktibong kasapi ng Young Critics Circle na si Nonoy Lauzon.
Kinukulit ni Nonoy ang peryodistang pampelikulang si Dennis Adobas na maging bahagi si Ate Guy ng Free Expression Bill lalo na sa mga kilos-protesta ng mga taong bumubuo nito.
Maisisingit naman ito marahil ni Nora sa kanyang mahigpit na iskedyul dahil isa ito sa mahahalagang gawain ng bawat tao, magulang, anak, propesyunal, manggagawa saanmang sulok ng lipunan at marami pang mga klase ng nilalang sa ating piling.
Matagal nang isinusulong ang pagbabago sa MTRCB sapul pa noon pero nagkasama-sama ang mga kabataang filmmaker na sina Lady Ann Salem, at iba pa nang magbuo ng grupo para isangguni ang pagbabago sa ahensiya ng sensura sa bansa dahil sa pagbabawal nito na magpalabas ng mga pelikula sa Cine Adarna ng University of the Philippines Film Institute na ang pelikula ay hindi dumaraan sa kamay ng MRTCB.
Kaya lang ay hindi nagpatuloy ang kilusan hanggang sa magbago nga ang rehimen at makita na may iba nang timpla at ihip ng hangin ang bagong pamahalaan.
Kagagaling lang ni Joel Lamangan kasama ang peryodistang si Dino Manrique at iba pa sa Kongreso para isulong ang Free Expression Bill.
Pero ang napagkasunduan ng samahan ay ipagpatuloy ang mga layunin pero hindi na gagawing maingay.
Kaya rin naman ni Norang hindi maingay ang kanyang pagtulong sa pasusulong na ito.
Umalis na pabalik ng Singapore si Carlitos Siguion-Reyna pagkatapos niyang sanggunian ng mga kasama sa pagtataguyod ng Free Expression Bill at ang payo nito ay ipagpatuloy lang ang mga simulain pero hindi na kailangang kumilos pa nang malawakan halimbawa’y mga demonstrasyon at martsa.
Samantala, kaugnay ng malayang pamamahayag, nagsimula na ang organisasyon ng Freelance Writers of the Philippines na pinangunahan ni Dino at ng kanyang mga kasama.
Ito ay para pahalagahan ang mga kagalingan at karapatan ng mga peryodista sa iba’t ibang larangan ng panulataan kabilang ang peryodismo pampelikula.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
by ABS-CBN Publishing
Thursday, August 25, 2011
This is the story that everyone has been waiting for: Superstar Nora Aunor returns to Manila! and the pages of StarStudio Magazine in a tribute that features more than 80 intimate photographs of her with her fans, friends and family and portraits by Master Photographer Jun de Leon.
In a one-on-one interview, Nora revisits the years she spent in the US, her humble beginnings back in Bicol, her rise to fame, being reunited with her family and what she faces now as she stages a comeback via the film “El Presidente” and a forthcoming TV project.
Friday, August 26, 2011
|Nora Aunor stars in "Himala" as Elsa, |
a young girl who changes everyone's lives
when she reveals her connection to the Virgin Mary.
by FEI PHOON
Decembr 18, 2008
LONDON, England (CNN) -- While many films spend a brief period in the spotlight before fading into obscurity, there are some which seem to grow increasingly powerful over time.
Lost Filipino classic "Himala," is one such film that looks set for a revival over two decades after it was first released.
Web site users voted to award the late Filipino director Ishmael Bernal's film the top prize in the CNN APSA Viewers Choice Award for Best Asia-Pacific Film of All Time, edging Akira Kurosawa's acknowledged classic "Seven Samurai" into second place.
This comes as a late but significant accomplishment for the film which was made in 1982. "Himala" has won numerous awards in its native Philippines and remains the first and only Filipino film to have been shown in competition at the prestigious Berlin International Film Festival.
"Himala," which means "miracle" in the Filipino language Tagalog, tells the story of a poor provincial girl named Elsa who claims to have seen the Virgin Mary and then demonstrates the ability to cure the sick.
She takes on the persona of a saint, and her sudden fame brings about a rush of changes in her community, for both better and worse.
Scriptwriter Ricky Lee, based his story on a real incident on Cabra Island, in Mindoro Occidental, Philippines. In the late 1960s, reports of a young girl who had experienced visions of the Virgin Mary attracted salvation-seeking pilgrims and curious tourists in droves.
Lee wanted to create an unflinching depiction of the place of faith and religion in desperate and unforgiving times. Producer Charo Santos-Conci's first impression of the script was that the subject matter hit close to home for the Filipinos, who are mostly Catholic.
"This was a representation of how much faith really runs in the blood of the Filipinos," he said, "We're a very poor country and I think it's such a relief for us to know that this strong faith in each one of us is [what's] guiding us and propelling us to face all the challenges."
Lee and Bernal also collaborated closely, continuing to work on Lee's original script, reworking the film's characters to make them as real as possible.
Filming was completed in just a month in the arid, desolate area of Ilocos Norte in the northern Philippines, on a meager budget of just over $60,000. Ilocos locals with no acting experience were hired as extras to cut costs, and Lee remembers them as a genuinely wretched bunch who "knew how it was to suffer" and "to pray for a miracle."
Lee had insisted on having actress Nora Aunor, who was 29-years-old at the time, in the lead role. Apart from the rising star's talent, he saw parallels with Elsa in her.
"Her relationship with her fans was almost like the relationship of Elsa with her followers in the film and so I thought that it was a very strange and mysterious," says Lee.
And to add a supernatural twist to the film's history, Aunor says that she had dreamt of the Virgin Mary on the night before the part of Elsa was offered to her. Since then Aunor has become one of the Philippines' biggest superstars, though "Himala" is still considered her finest work.
In her character's final speech in "Himala", which both Lee and Santos-Conci say is their favorite scene, she resolutely confesses to a motley crowd of worshippers that "there is no miracle." After telling the people to seek the truth within themselves, she is assassinated by a faceless follower.
"Long after the film was shown, I would talk to university students and they would always ask, 'So, who killed Elsa?'" says Lee of the climactic ending, which underwent several on-set rewrites.
"And I always tell them that in the end, we killed her. In the end, we killed Elsa. In the end, people could not bear to hear the truth from her because they wanted to survive."
Lee believes the film's message is still relevant today, particularly for Filipinos, because it confronts how easily people attach their faith to almost anything they think might ease their suffering in times of hardship and despair.
Whatever it is that audiences see in "Himala's" unique story, it would certainly seem that it is finally gaining the recognition it deserves.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
ni REY PUMALOY
Marter, Ika-23 ng Agosto, 2011
Eclipse at Nuclear Bomb inihahalintulad ni Ian de Leon ang pangyayari na muling nagkita ang kanyang parents na sina Nora Aunor at Christopher de Leon. Naganap ang pagkikita ng dalawa sa story conference ng gagawin nilang serye sa TV5 na Sa Ngalan ng Ina.
Once in a lifetime ang diskprisyon ni Ian sa paghaharap muli ng kanyang mga magulang matapos ang matagal na panahong hindi pagkikita ng mga ito kaya para raw itong Solar Eclipse.
Kahit mismo si Ian ay hindi na-predict na magkakaharap ulit ang kanyang mommy at daddy. Para nga raw siyang sinabugan ng Nuclear Bomb nu’ng makita ang eksenang nag-uusap ang kanyang parents.
Naaliw si Ian sa kanyang naobserbahan na parehong nakahawak sa kani-kanilang baba ang Mommy Nora niya at Daddy Boyet niya. Hindi nga raw alam ni Ian kung aware sa isa’t isa ang dalawa na pareho sila ng pustura habang nag-uusap.
Sabi pa ni Ian, para nga raw walang nakikitang ibang tao ang mommy at daddy niya habang masinsinang nag-uusap. Hindi raw napigilan ni Ian ang kiligin sa nakita niyang eksena sa kanyang parents. Dahil noon lang daw niya nakitang nag-usap ng ganito ang dalawa.
Nakaramdam ng pagmamalaki sa kanyang puso si Ian at nasabi raw niya sa kanyang sarili na “produkto yata ako ng Banawe”, isang award-winning movie na pinagbidahan ng kanyang mga magulang na kung saan nagkagustuhan ang mga ito.
Pero siyempre, hindi na umaasa pa si Ian na magkabalikan pa ang dalawa dahil alam niyang kuntento na ang mga ito sa kani-kanilang buhay.
May kuha raw si Ian sa Mommy Guy at Daddy Boyet niya habang nag-uusap. Pasimple raw niyang kinunan ng larawan ang dalawa kaya alam niyang iisa ang pustura ng mga ito habang nag-uusap.
Kahapon kinunan ang first taping day ng kanilang serye kung saan gagampanan ni Ian ang role ng isang ex-marine na magiging problema ng kanyang Mommy Guy. Sa sobrang excitement ay hindi sinasadyang i-reveal sa amin ni Ian ang magiging takbo ng character niya sa serye. Gagampanan daw niya ang papel bilang lover ni Rosanna Roces.
Lalabas na magkakaroon ng love triangle sa kanilang tatlo nina Osang at ng Daddy Boyet niya dahil asawa naman ng huli ang role ni Osang. Mukha nga lang hindi handa si Ian na magkaroon ng kissing scene o love scene kay Osang sa serye. Sinabi kasi nitong wala sa script na nagsasabing magkakaroon sila ng intimate sexual scene ni Osang.
Siyanga pala, hindi kabado at hindi rin takot si Ian sa pakikipagtagisan ng acting sa kanyang mga magulang dahil nananalaytay raw sa ugat niya ang dugo ng dalawang mahuhusay na aktor ng local showbiz.
Samantala, nag-last shooting day na si Nora sa pelikulang pinagbibidahan ni Laguna Governor ER Ejercito na El Presidente last Sunday. Ipinagbawal ang pagbisita ng mga entertainment media sa location ng shooting, pero hindi si Boy Abunda na may schedule ng interview sa Superstar.
Nangyari ang sinabi ni La Aunor sa presscon para sa kanya ng TV5 nu’ng kadarating lang niya galing ng Amerika na handa siyang tapusin sa itinakdang araw ang shooting niya sa nasabing historical movie.
Huwag lang daw na dadapuan siya ng karamdaman na puwedeng mag-delay sa kanyang commitment.
At ‘yun na nga, may isang araw na hindi nakapag-shooting si Ate Guy dahil nilagnat siya. Pero, walang mairereklamo sa kanya ang production ng El Presidente dahil ayon mismo sa kaibigan niyang si German Moreno, mismong ang doctor ni Gov. ER ang nagsabing pagpahingahin muna ang superstar.
Monday, August 22, 2011
by BUTCH FRANCISCO
The Philippine Star
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Absence doesn’t necessarily make the heart grow fonder. At least, this is not always true in show business what with all those disposable talents waiting to take over. Eight years is also a long time.
But trust Nora Aunor to once more break the unwritten showbiz rules in the same way she broke barriers more than 40 years ago when she ushered in the era of diminutive and dark-skinned actresses.
Although she was immediately recognized as a phenomenon after her 1967 Tawag ng Tanghalan grand champion win, the entertainment industry wasn’t exactly sure what to do with this tiny brown girl with a golden voice in the beginning.
Even Nora herself didn’t know what step to take next that time. There was even this phase when she almost migrated to the US (yes, America had always lured her to settle there) after she did the front act at the Araneta Coliseum concert of singer Timi Yuro.
Timi wanted to adopt her and bring her to the United States. For a while, Nora did consider the option. But she never regretted having stayed behind because of the succeeding events in her life.
During that period two young female stars were being groomed to take over the movie queen thrones vacated by Susan Roces and Amalia Fuentes – Helen Gamboa and Roces’ own sister Rosemarie (she didn’t use her real surname Sonora until later).
Helen unofficially gave up her right to the crown when she married Tito Sotto leaving Rosemarie free to claim the movie queen title. Rosemarie by then was the only remaining contract star of Sampaguita Pictures (every one else had gone free lance).
The late great star-builder, Dr. Jose Perez, knew there was something big awaiting Nora and he lost no time offering the singing champion a contract with Sampaguita. Like all the other studio-manufactured stars before her, Nora was made to go through the process of waiting it out till she was ripe enough to carry her film by initially playing support to Rosemarie. The Nora-Tirso (Cruz III) tandem was born, but they were second fiddles to Rosemarie and Ricky Belmonte.
Nora didn’t have to wait long. It was evident that she had developed a huge fan base that could make her a gold mine at the box-office. She was so idolized that whenever she would meet with her fans, some of her followers got down on their knees to kiss the hemline of her
Her films (and records) became huge moneymakers that she was able to make demands that she be paid in cash (not checks) that had to be delivered to her house in a bayong (native woven basket).
Unfortunately for Sampaguita, which was the first company to gamble on Nora, their prized property was tempted to accept film projects from other movie studios. That triggered a lengthy court battle initiated by Sampaguita that legally had the right to her services as a movie star (the judge in the end ruled in favor of Dr. Perez). Lucky for Nora, while her case was being heard in court, she was still able to make movies for both companies. That turned her into an even bigger star.
But away from the protective walls of Sampaguita, Nora also opened herself up to all types of showbiz vultures. Without her knowing it, a movie company would make her do three films for the price of one.
It was easy to mount a Nora big screen musical that time. All the director had to do was make her render a series of song numbers and all that could be turned into three separate film projects, but she only got paid for one.
Of course, she eventually realized that she had been had. But she had already been milked dry by then. Showbiz analysts point to this as the reason why she rebelled and became difficult to work and deal with. Perhaps in her young mind, she was always conscious of the sad fact that everyone was out to take advantage of her. And her suspicions weren’t exactly inaccurate. Welcome to the wild jungles of show business where predators abound.
But despite her reputation for pulling stunts that always included disappearing acts, her star shone even brighter. By the early ‘70s, she had been acknowledged as the superstar a take-off from the hit foreign musical, Jesus Christ, Superstar.
It also helped that she knew how to play her cards right. She formed her own movie outfit, NV films, that allowed her to pursue screen parts that were her own choice and not just some role rammed down her throat by a studio out to make a fast buck out of her.
In 1976, her attempt to be recognized as a serious and respected actress finally bore fruits with this validation from the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino that hailed her as the group’s first Best Actress winner (for Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos). In 1976, her attempt to be recognized as a serious and respected actress finally bore fruits
Nora couldn’t ask for more at that point. She had both popularity and respect.
And then came longevity.
By the time she left for the US eight years ago, she and rival Vilma Santos had already established themselves as the two longest-reigning queens of Philippine movies.
Now that she had returned, the interest in her had not waned. Even the young generation became curious about her. Showbiz observers of almost 50 years ago were actually right about their assessment of her. Nora Aunor, the superstar, is truly a phenomenon.
by ARNEL RAMOS
Malaya Business Insight
Monday, August 22, 2011
What we know about Nora Aunor is largely culled from movie excursions with our mom, a certified Noranian, when we were too young and did not have much of a choice but go along with our Nanay’s preferred film fare. And so, beside Nanay inside random cavernous cinema houses, we enjoyed "Annie Batungbakal" and "Bongga Ka ‘Day," and the comedy "Totoo Ba ang Tsismis" opposite a much younger leading man (Gabby Concepcion at the peak of his matinee idol good looks).
Her highlight by the cliff as the woman an ambitious Phillip Salvador wanted to get rid of in favor of the rich and beautiful Hilda Koronel in "Nakaw na Pag-ibig" we found gripping. As her gifts matured in such acting vehicles as "Ina Ka ng Anak Mo," "Bona," "‘Merika" and most especially "Himala," we found ourselves, not unlike the most ardent Noranians and anyone who is a film buff, having memorized Nora’s iconic lines and memorable scenes from these opuses.
Nora, we would hear over and again, changed the way producers and audiences believed how a star should look like. Pint-sized and rather ordinary looking, the dusky Bicolana who peddled water by the train tracks before she won the singing contest "Tawag ng Tanghalan" put the mestizas out to pasture.
She was someone who was not conversant in the King’s language and became the personification of the masa and the bakya with whom the plain Juanas and Marias identified strongly and deeply. It was as if they found someone who was of their own kind. Nora represented their struggles, their pains and sorrows and their dreams and hopes.
We started writing about the movies and stars four years into the new millennium. But we have been closely observing the goings-on in the industry from when we were a child of 9. Tatay and his mom, my paternal grandmother, didn’t care much about Nora. The two were both fans of Carmen Rosales, the original queen of Philippine movies. Tatay also was crazy about Roger Moore and the James Bond movies, French sex symbol and action star Alain Delon, Omar Shariff. But Nanay, as we’ve mentioned earlier, was just nuts about Nora. "Mata pa lang niya, umaarte na," she would praise the bulilit goddess to high heavens, echoing the sentiments of the brown Cinderella’s legions of followers.
Hers is the clearest singing voice Pinoys have ever heard, Nanay would remind us often lest we forgot. Nanay passed away April of 1983 and her last Christmas was spent watching "Himala" during the Metro Manila Film Festival with me and my sister. When Vilma scored a Best Actress grandslam as the modern-day querida in "Relasyon," we were so sorry for Nora because, in our young mind, we couldn’t fathom how Nora’s almost hypnotic portrayal of Elsa, the bogus visionary, could have lost to Vilma’s body-and-soul and yet sort of shrill performance. Years later, of course, after repeated viewings of "Relasyon," we came to appreciate Vilma’s efforts more. For one thing, her character was better written than Nora’s and Vilma seized the day, giving the role everything she had. But then Nora’s Elsa still remains special and essential.
When Nora’s box-office magic started to wane in the early ‘80s with her bohemian ways contributing to her downfall, we became quite critical of the star. We found her performance as Magnolia dela Cruz in "Bilangin ang Bituin sa Langit" quite fine but it was nowhere near the brilliance of her earlier collaborations with master filmmakers Lino Brocka, Ishmael Bernal and even the underappreciated Mario O’Hara (the scene where Nora goes on a long walk towards nowhere while clutching her newborn in "Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos" comes to mind). The ones that followed "Bilangin" we found utterly disgusting. She was just, in our mind, over-the-top in "Andrea, Paano Ba ang Maging Isang Ina," "Ang Totoong Buhay ni Pacita M.," "Sidhi," and even the much-awarded "Flor Contemplacion Story." Suddenly, Vilma’s "noisy" acting style seems to have rubbed off on her fiercest rival. We remember hearing Ricky Lee, one of Nora’s dearest screenwriter-friends, say that Nora was "marunong mag-eksperimento." Still, we preferred the nuanced performances of yore. The chilling scene in "Bona" when she threw boiling water onto the stuntman to whom she wrongly devoted her life. The tender scene on the roof with Dennis Roldan (as the simpleton) in "Bakit Bughaw ang Langit." When she utters "Hayop, hayop…" repeatedly upon discovering her mother and husband’s indiscretion in "Ina Ka ng Anak Mo." The eerily quiet, no-dialogue scenes in "‘Merika" where she simply goes about her daily routine, staring out into nothingness, the bleakness she is feeling within peeking through those fabled eyes. The list is quite long indeed.
She may have a solid reputation as an incredibly-gifted actress but there is another facet of Nora that is not exactly pleasing to hear and learn about. Horror stories abound. Of how she would make people wait for her on the set of a movie or TV show. The reported predilection for alcohol which her critics would dismiss with a cryptic attempt at tag phrasing: "Nora lasengga." The nomadic nature; we all have heard of course of her legendary habit of changing addresses. When Nora Aunor, by then 51, left for the US in 2004, she herself may have felt what Greta Garbo would famously intone in her swan song "Two-Faced Woman" in 1941: "In this harsh new world, there is no place for me."
That time, she has been labeled as box-office poison many times and would be able to bounce back without fail but then, maybe Nora may have felt that she has already reached the end of the line. There was, after all, nothing more to prove. There was nothing left to conquer. She could retire and retreat from the spotlight and people would still talk about her. People would continue to eulogize her even before her time on earth has run out. People would continue to analyze her, discuss her, write books on her even.
And yet, the whole duration of her US hiatus was plagued by unsavory reports, rumors, accounts, speculations. Did she really marry her former manager in same-sex rites in Las Vegas? Is John Rendez, the mestizo rapper she plucked out from obscurity to play her adopted daughter Lotlot de Leon’s leading man in "Pacita M" her lover? And what about the time she was arrested at an airport for possession of illegal drugs?
What are we to make of this woman who seems to have this tendency to self-destruct? What are we to make of this extraordinarily-gifted performer who seems intent on living the rest of her days wayward and just plain crazy?
When TV5 hosted a welcome home press meet for Nora Aunor on the afternoon of August 2, the very day of her arrival from Los Angeles, it was just astounding to see her magic work full blast right before our very eyes. Old friends from the entertainment press were in tears at the sight of her, not a few were muttering "Iba pa rin si Nora" under their breath, the air filled with strains of stirring, dramatic music and the room reduced to a hush at her grand entrance.
She comes home to a hero’s welcome, triumphant and yet repentant. Nora Aunor vows to make up for her past misdemeanor. And this writer, overwhelmed by the reception given to her by colleagues, is taken back. We spend the next few days sorting out our feelings for La Aunor. The woman our Nanay swore was the greatest actress Philippine Cinema has ever produced. She whom her worshippers attest to as peerless, adamant in dismissing those who would dare put in their two cents’ worth: "But then Lolita Rodriguez is also exceptional. Hilda Koronel is elegant and no less outstanding. And Maricel Soriano is versatile, Vilma Santos heartfelt and heartbreaking. And then there is Jaclyn Jose, Chanda Romero, Beth Bautista, Daria Ramirez."
"Ganun yata talaga kapag artist, may pagka-luka luka," puts in a colleague.
"Iba ang magic ni Aunor. Meron siyang enigma. Para siyang non-linear narrative. Laging meron kang aabangan. Hindi palaging straight, hindi boring," adds another.
There are a thousand and one more opinions, expressed differently in varying degrees of fervor and conviction, but all valiant attempts at trying to explain the hold, the spell that Nora Aunor has cast on her devoted public for so long.
How do you demystify a legend? How do you deconstruct a myth?
By the end of this treatise, we realize that we have come up with nothing but a feeble effort to answer this thesis question: "Sino ka talaga, Nora?"
You can choose to read through or simply ignore the rest of this discourse – Nora Aunor is so much more complex and confounding than she herself would put it. "Ako pa rin po ito. Maloko pa rin. Lukaret eh." If so, it is madness that has set her apart from a long line of fair-skinned, conventionally beautiful movie queens. Hers is the kind of magic that could have originated only in the era which spawned her. Can you imagine Nora Aunor giving the studio-manufactured stars of today, a mix of half-breeds and second-generation starlets, a run for their money? The careers of modern-day luminaries have been charted by their respective managers to last only for a good five years or so. They lack the gift and prescience of Aunor.
The woman may have gone bankrupt and lost a great deal of her earnings when she ventured into producing movies in the ‘70s but the cinematic gems she came up with would last forever. "Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos," "Bona," the list is illustrious. Aunor started out as a singing idol but did not stop at that. She sought opportunities to work with the best people in the trade. The results are a shining gallery of memorable screen incarnations. The stars of today do not walk the talk when they go out to media and speak about "wanting to improve their craft" without doing anything concrete about it. This is precisely why their acting often borders on the soap-opera-ish style prevalent in the TV landscape. You couldn’t feel the pain of being abandoned by a lover or a parent. They couldn’t make you smell the filth of the slums and see the ghastliness of poverty.
Her artistry is the side of Aunor that compensates for the aberrant behavior and merits, as most showbiz insiders and observers believe, a National Artist award while she can still enjoy the recognition and honor. She is, after all, a national treasure. When showbusiness was used to the traditional and the predictable, along came Nora. And our notions of what was beautiful and extraordinary were changed forever. The likes of her do not come every so often. Flaws and all, Nora Aunor remains arguably the quintessence of what a showbiz himala brings with it and leaves on its trail.
Will she be able to translate the mania and hysteria that surrounds her homecoming into good box-office returns and soaring ratings? Are we witnessing the rebirth of a new Nora Aunor? Expectations are high and Nora seems up to the daunting task ahead. "Ayokong umasa kasi ayokong mabigo at masaktan," says La Aunor. "Kung ano ‘yung mangyari. Kung ano ‘yung mga pinangako ko na tutuparin ko, ‘yung attitude sa trabaho lalo na, saka lang ako maniniwala kapag nagawa ko na." Change, they say, is never possible without first acknowledging one’s past misdeeds.
Are we to believe the words of this most mercurial of stars? Why is it that where Nora Aunor is concerned, most showbiz folk seem always ready to forgive and forget and embrace this repeatedly errant star back? One image remains imprinted in our memory during a rare up-close, in-the-flesh encounter with the legend. Nora was recounting a recent ordeal that caused her the very thing that started her off on the path to superstardom and near-beatification – her rich, soulful alto. For a few seconds after her heartbreaking recollection, she sits still on the couch, head lowered. When she looks up and meets our gaze, she lets out a meek smile, her eyes like a keeper of a million hurts undisclosed.
In an industry where stars are expected to be like divinity, immortal and all-powerful, can you even begin to ascertain what a chosen one like Nora Aunor must put up with and live up to? Chances are, you may not wish to be in her place. To be venerated as the greatest could be the loneliest predicament of all.